You’ve made it through the holiday season and now the new year is here. Maybe you made it through the season successfully and avoided overindulging on cookies and other rich foods, or maybe like most people, you ate a bit too much and put on a pound or two. Regardless of where you are, January is a great time to get yourself back on track after the holidays.
We’ve put together some simple steps you can take to get back to a healthier lifestyle even if you took a break during the holidays and splurged a little (or a lot!).
While nearly every holiday gathering involves food and revolves around food, you can easily shift away from that in January. Try to plan a game night, or go out for a walk or hike, something that gets you away from the snack table. This will help prevent mindless eating and take the focus off treats.
During the holidays an eating schedule tends to go out the window. You might be off from work which will change your breakfast time, and during family gatherings, food is typically being served for the entirety of the event, and leftovers make late-night bingeing easy and accessible. Instead, try to return to your pre-holiday eating routine. Eat breakfast within 1 hour of waking up, then eat every 3-5 hours after that. Begin your day with a healthy meal, and continue eating balanced meals throughout the rest of the day. Don’t try to skip meals to compensate for overeating since eating too little is just as bad as eating too much because it switches your body into conservation mode.
Whether you continued to exercise during the holidays or took a break, this is a great time to get active. Go for a walk, hit the gym, or take a class – anything to get yourself moving and elevate your heart rate.
One of the biggest detriments to healthy eating habits is poor planning for your meals. Create a weekly meal list or at the very least plan out your meals for the day. This will help keep you on track and make better food choices at each meal.
When you make your meals at home, you’ll have more control over what you eat. It also helps to make a grocery game plan to help you buy what you need for your meals and snacks for the week rather than grabbing pre-made foods or treats.
If you do slip up and overindulge, don’t punish yourself by skipping your next meal. Instead, just get back on track the next time you sit down to eat. Some people may falsely believe that if you don’t eat lunch, you can eat more calories at dinner. But that approach doesn’t always end well. More often than not, if you skip a meal you’ll be more hungry by the time your next meal comes around and eat more than you would have and make less healthy choices.
One of the simplest ways to curb your appetite, and get back on track after the holidays is to drink more water. Drinking water instead of sugary drinks or alcohol can prevent dehydration, resulting in a better mood and reducing your risk of overeating. Plus, studies have shown that drinking more water, especially before a meal, may help to increase weight loss and reduce your appetite.
Avoid or limit alcohol. If you do have an alcoholic drink, have it with food and try to limit yourself to a single drink. If you can avoid soda altogether and opt for a healthier option like seltzer instead.
Eliminating carbs is another common thing people do to compensate for post-holiday indulging, however, this is a mistake because it can force your body to burn protein for fuel instead of using it to support and maintain your calorie-burning muscle. Instead of cutting carbs out completely try to cut back instead. For example, at dinner, make yourself a plate of veggies and lean protein with a small amount of healthy fat and a small serving of whole grains like wild rice.
If you’ve over-indulged for the holidays and put on a few pounds try to get back into a healthy eating and fitness routine before you try to lose weight. Most likely the weight will come off naturally just by returning to your normal eating and work out schedule, but if it hasn’t in a few weeks, you can increase your workout or tighten up your calories once you’re back on track with eating.